Life or Something Like It, Vacation Days

Niagara Falls, Holmes County, and the Mansfield Reformatory

This was written 8 years ago.  This year (2022), we celebrated 28 years of marriage together.  He is my favorite human ever. Here is our trip to Niagara Falls, Holmes County, and the Mansfield Reformatory.

Niagara Falls, Holmes County, and the Mansfield Reformatory

Living Out God’s Story 20 Years Strong

Living Out God’s Story 20 Years Strong. Today is the day I married the man God intended for me to marry.

I met him during a horrible time in my life. Sadly, I was in an abusive relationship and very beaten down. I had just transferred to our local university. Also, I had moved out of my home. My family was in turmoil, and it wasn’t easy.

I remember walking into the game room. Amazingly, I had gotten a job on campus, and this was it. I was late because I had driven from my parent’s home, an hour away. By the time I got there, the other employees had already lined up at the front desk and heard the “speech” given by the head guy.

I noticed a boy, about the third or fourth in line. He had whitewashed jeans, a light green shirt, a cub’s hat, and a lip full of tobacco (yuck). I only saw his profile.

My first thought was, “I’m gonna marry him.”

I had no idea his name as if he were single. Honestly, all I knew was his butt looked AMAZING in those jeans. Also, he had a kind expression on his face.

I walked to the end of the line and heard the speech. Then, I got my schedule. I remember looking at it in detail. Sadly, I knew no one. I was paired on the weekends with two guys. One of the guy’s name was Shawn, and the second guy, I remember looking at his name and thinking, “who would name their kid Bart?” Seriously, I had no idea who “Bart” was. Honestly, I just got tickled with his name. I even called my sister, snickering.

Then, as I went for my first shift, I met Shawn. He was a nice guy who loved to pick his nose on yards upon yards of toilet paper. As I sat there, I looked up, and here he came, Bart. He was the guy with the whitewashed jeans. I remember thinking, “OH MY GOODNESS!”

My heart Flipped.

His eyes were sky blue. He had a bitty mustache. He was quiet and reserved. His hands were HUGE….my thumbs put together would equal one of his thumbs. He was smart. Soft. Encouraging.

My “relationship” with the guy I had been with was very controlling. He did not allow me to talk to ANY male person. Also, he would come and watch me. It did not go well when I had to speak to a guy. He would stand there and watch. I walked behind him. I had no opinion on any subject. He told me what to think and do, how to act, and who to associate with, and it was sad. Even sadder, though, as I yielded to that mindset and treatment.

We had bowling alleys in our game room, and they occasionally broke down. Bart and I would have to go back to where my “boyfriend” couldn’t go so we could work on the lanes. He would talk to me and tell me what he thought I deserved and how I should be treated, that I should be treated like a princess and without abandon. I deserved better.

He loved me, and he showed me love. Also, he taught me how to love.

From meeting to marriage was about a year, and today, we celebrate 20 years of marriage. I’m so thankful my first reaction was spot on and that through the years of love, laughter, pain, and loss. He has never left my side.

Happy Anniversary to my FAVORITE person (you’ve still got a great butt)

Niagara Falls, Holmes County, and the Mansfield Reformatory

On our 20th Anniversary Trip, we spent time in Canada, Buffalo, NY, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and more. We booked a reservation at the Skylon Tower. Then, we went for a walk through Toronto and Ontario. Well, we got lost in Toronto.

It was breathtaking. All of it was just breathtaking. This is a place I would go back to year after year. I have never seen anything so gorgeous in all my days. It is a close second to Dhera, Ethiopia.

Niagara Falls, Holmes County, and the Mansfield Reformatory

Niagara Falls, Holmes County, and the Mansfield Reformatory


We saw many nations represented.

In addition to the Falls, we saw Tibetan Monks, Rabbis, a sweet Jewish family, and many Amish and Mennonites.

We looked up and ran into old acquaintances among the many, many people. We have not seen these people in years. They were as shocked as we were. We attended church for years and taught each other’s kids during AWANA. It has probably been ten years since we had seen them. Then, we ran into them in Canada.

Tonight we had dinner at Fuji Grill. It was a hibachi grill, and it was wonderful.

 We were blessed enough to share our table with a traveling couple from Indiana.

We laughed, shared, and talked the whole time.


Part of my Bucket List

Part of my bucket list is Kissing Big Daddy under a waterfall (at Niagara Falls). Well, I successfully did that. There was a quick moment of Kissing Big Daddy Under the American Falls at Niagara.

There was a moment when we were attempting to get under the falls. The pressure, the wind, and the force of the water made it hard to stand. So, I got under, and he tried to get a picture. Then, Bart got under it, and I tried to get a picture.

As He Was Walking Out From Under the Falls

I remembered my bucket list and made him run back under the falls. Then, I tucked my camera under my poncho and ran under there.

Then, I did it. Success.

It was windy and wet.

However, there was no picture until after the fact.

Check it off my list 🙂

Now, for 1001 more items to check off my list. One by one, Big Daddy and I were doing what we love to do. He is my favorite travel buddy!

One day, I want to sell everything when the kids are gone. Then, I want to buy an RV and travel all over the place. The thought thrills me to my toes.

On 20th Anniversary Trip Day 6, we slept in, which was lovely.

We went to the mall, and I had my first experience in the Coach store.

Big Daddy let me in the store alone. Big, big, BIG mistake.

The colors and the smells dazzled my senses.

Big Daddy tried to whisk me away, and he did so in vain. I was helpless in the clearance section. I also had a 50% off coupon. This was such an exciting moment. I remember when I would cry in the drive-thru at McDonald’s because I had $1.00 to get a sandwich.

Niagara Falls, Holmes County, and the Mansfield Reformatory

It was too much.

I succumbed to the powers of the store and bought a bag. It was fabulous. However, since I bought a bag, I told Big Daddy that I would see a movie of his choice.

It was X Men.

Say a prayer.

In my opinion, these movies are stupid.

It was a good movie, shockingly enough. Since I went into it knowing nothing, Big Daddy had a lot of explaining to do. He didn’t seem to mind. It is lovely spending time doing something that he enjoys doing. I mean, I did get a new purse and all!

On our 20th Anniversary Trip Day 8, we went to the Mansfield Reformatory.

Niagara Falls, Holmes County, and the Mansfield Reformatory

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It was WOW and WOW.

I have lots of pictures.

The thought of how many young men died in this prison was mindboggling. Bart’s dad played baseball with the inmates on this front lawn. How cool is that? Oh, how I wish he were alive so we could share this with him. I would love to hear all of his stories.

The new prison is beside the old one. We accidentally got into the parking lot of the wrong prison. I guess the no trespassing sign should have been a cue. Honestly, we looked up and saw the line of prisoners walking from the yard back to their cells. We left quickly.

Heading to Cardington, OH

We also headed into Big Daddy’s parent’s hometown of Cardington, OH.

There, we met up with his aunt and uncle. They were gracious enough to let us stay with them overnight. They took us out to a great little diner.

We left the diner and headed to the campground, where I met another aunt and uncle (after 20 years of marriage).

We stayed and chatted for a while and then headed back to sleep.

On our 20th Anniversary Trip Day 9, we headed into Amish Country.

The place we chose, which we remember when we were 20 years ago, is in Holmes County, OH.

We ate at Boyd and Wurthman’s Diner. It was locally owned and operated. The food was delicious.

I got a few pictures, not many because the Amish do not want their picture taken. I took a picture of one little boy. Respecting their beliefs is important to me because it was important to my father-in-law. I chose to respect that.

Sad Fact

It was not as we remembered. There were so many more businesses, English businesses. It has become very commercial. We only shopped at locally owned stores and no “English-run” businesses. The scenery, however, was just as we remembered. It was gorgeous.

We went to Heini’s, and we sampled about 20 different cheeses. It was wonderful. Heini’s is a cheese factory. Let me tell you; it will be in heaven when I get there. A place dedicated to cheese. Yes, please.

Excellent food.

We also got to see a covered bridge and a castle 🙂

Niagara Falls, Holmes County, and the Mansfield Reformatory

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